Meetings fuel collective agreement campaign
The team negotiating the secondary teachers’ collective agreement this year is working its way through a wealth of constructive feedback and ideas from the recent branch-based paid union meetings.
The meetings were very successful, thanks largely to the fantastic efforts of hundreds of branch chairs around the motu. More than 300 branches - representing more than 10,000 members – held paid union meetings (PUMs).
Opportunity for members to have their say
Susan Haugh, advisory officer and campaign coordinator, says the meetings were an opportunity for members to have their say about what PPTA Te Wehengarua should claim in the collective agreement bargaining round this year. The current collective expires on 30 June.
“These meetings were rescheduled from Term 4 2021 after COVID-19 caused the NCEA exam period to be delayed into the week when we were going to have paid union meetings. Normally these would have been regional meetings, but red light traffic settings meant members had to meet in branches.
“We acknowledge the amount of work this was for branch chairs and committees. The information was complex and required careful preparation prior to the meeting.
“Many branch chairs had to adapt to move their meetings online as members were self isolating or branches were so large that it was risky to meet in person. As always, teachers were creative and adaptable and got the job done.
Webinars well attended
“PPTA Te Wehengarua had to be adaptive as well, we tried a couple of things for the first time. We held two webinars to prepare branch chairs/committees for running their PUMs. These were well attended, with around 150 participants over the two webinars.
“For the first time we held a Zoom union meeting for members who would have otherwise found it hard to attend a meeting with a branch, such as relief teachers, RTLBs, itinerant music teachers and health school teachers. More than 60 members attended this meeting.”
What happens now? Susan says the negotiating team is analysing the feedback from branches and will use it to write draft claims. “These claims will go to the Executive committee at the end of March for their approval, and then back out to members for final acceptance. This will be done via a digital voting platform this year.”
Engaging, compelling campaign ahead
Pre-bargaining, as agreed in the Tripatite Education Accord, is under way as of March, and bargaining proper will begin 60 days before the collective agreement expires.
Melanie Webber, PPTA Te Wehengarua president, says the environment in which the last collective agreement was negotiated and eventually settled in 2019 is a different world altogether from now. “The days of the huge regional paid union meetings feel like they were in a whole different era. COVID-19 continues to demand huge changes to how teachers work and it will have significant implications for how we organise in support of the negotiations.
"I am sure teachers’ resourcefulness, creativity and clever thinking will make for an engaging, compelling and winning campaign. We must never forget that our conditions of working are our students’ conditions of learning.”